Packing Light for Walt Disney World

With airlines charging higher and higher fees for luggage, many travelers are doing everything they can to pack light when heading off on vacation. If you can pack into carry on bags, you can often save a considerable amount of money. Casual is almost always appropriate for a WDW vacation and with a little planning you can create great outfits with minimal luggage.

Packing Light For Your Disney VacationPacking Light For Your Disney Vacation

Mix and Match ColorsPack Everyone in Their Own Carry-On Bag

For a 5 Night/ 6 Day vacation you can get away with relatively few clothes. Each member of your party should try and pack into their own carry-on bag. To decided how much you need to pack, add up your number of days, and divide it by 2. For a 6 day trip you actually only need to pack 2 outfits.

Choosing a color palette that can mix and match, can give you the feeling of having more outfits with you. To create a greater number of outfit options, choose only one or two colors to pack. Mix & Match creates the illusion of greater variety. For my last vacation, I packed in Khaki, Blue & Red and was able to create several different outfits from minimal base pieces by changing accessories.

Simple Accessories Can Change Your Overall LookSimple Accessories Can Change Your Overall Look

First plan the outfit that you will be traveling in. Since it will be worn you won't need to worry about packing it. Your travel outfit should be comfortable and it's a good idea to include a couple of layers. By layering your travel outfit you allow yourself more options later in the week. Example: Don't just wear a t-shirt, layer the t-shirt with an Oxford and perhaps a light jacket.

Next pack your bag with the remaining outfits. For a 6 day trip, you only need to pack clothing for 2 days. Adding small accessories can change up the look of an outfit. Ladies may add a scarf or unique necklace, men may want to layer another shirt, or add a vest. Hats are a great way to change the feeling of an outfit too!
In all of the pictures in this post, I'm wearing a blue shirt and jeans. Yet by layering and changing up my accessories I had several different looks.

Park Colors that Compliment each OtherPark Colors that Compliment each Other

For guests who don't wish to wear an outfit more than once, or are staying at Walt Disney World for more than a week, there are several options available to wash the clothes that you've brought along with you. Washers and dryers in Guest Villas, Guest Laundry Rooms in all Resorts, Dry Cleaning & Laundry Service offered at Deluxe Disney Resorts.

Do you have any tips for packing light? Let me know what your secrets are for cutting your baggage costs!

RichGBC wrote on Tue, 05/29/2012 - 12:41:

RichGBC's picture

During the last 3, week long trips we have taken, I've done a load of wash or two. Before it was pack for 7 days, now I pack for 4.
We hit the parks hard during our trips, but there is always an afternoon or evening where you can hang out at the resort and get it done. Besides, opening the suitcase back at home is much more enjoyable. It makes it a lot less stressful for me to pack lighter and have clean clothes at the end of the week.
It also avoids that last's super hot and all I have left is jeans moment.

finngirl wrote on Tue, 05/29/2012 - 15:18:

finngirl's picture

We did exactly this when we went to WDW in early May. The airline we were flying with charges now for checked bags, plus they were experiencing labour difficulties, and bags were being misdirected. I chose a main colour scheme for both DH and I, (brown/beige for him, blue for me) and assumed everything would be worn twice. (except underwear and socks). I also chose shirts that could be rinsed out and hung to dry overnight without wrinkling, just in case. Tide makes a great little travel packet for rinsing things out in the bathroom sink, and in a pinch, you could probably use the shampoo. We will be doing this much more often now - fewer hassles, and no worry about your luggage taking a vacation in Hawaii, while you are on the east coast!

Vicki wrote on Tue, 05/29/2012 - 15:40:

Vicki's picture

While I appreciate the packing tips - I do have to disagree with the general premise of this article - that you only need one outfit for every two days of your trip. In my experience, the combination of Florida heat and humidity along with the need for suntan lotion, plus cooler nights some months of the year requires multiple clothing changes throughout the day to stay fresh and odour free. I would much rather pay a baggage fee, then spend my valuable vacation hours doing laundry. The one exception would be if I had in room laundry.

Kristen K. wrote on Tue, 05/29/2012 - 16:21:

Kristen K.'s picture

Vicki - My last trip was the first one I ever tried to pack light, I usually do change from day clothes to evening clothes, not because they're dirty, but because I enjoy dressing for dinner. This past time however I simply couldn't afford the extra $200 for us to check bags like we usually do. Packing light was a HUGE challenge for me, but it turned out to work fantastic!

There's always a price to pay, my husband and I call it "opportunity cost" sometimes we pay in time and sometimes we pay in cold hard cash. When the cash just isn't available taking the time to do a little laundry seems like a small price to pay. In addition, that time we spent while the laundry was in gave us a chance to relax by the pool, and for the kids to make use of the arcade and community activities. Those are both things we never really took advantage of in the past. The vacation had a different feel to it, and it wasn't at all a bad thing!

JD wrote on Tue, 05/29/2012 - 22:02:

JD's picture

I usually ship my clothes down before I arrive (although each of us takes a small carry-on with have-to-have-it items). The best price in sending a box is (SUPRISE) through the post office! (It used to be UPS, but they now charge between $5-10+ more than the post office!)

One large box (you can get empties from the supermarket - the boxes they pack cereal in are usually big enough for us) costs about $20 to ship directly to the hotel. It's much cheaper than paying to check a bag and it's always waiting for you (never re-routed to another state).

In order not to have to pay to ship all the clothes back home, I usually send down my previously loved clothes that I am comfortable donating. (Not worn-out, should-be-used-to-wash-the-car clothes, but gently worn clothes that I might normally be replacing anyway.) When it's time to go home, I write a note on the folded clothes that reads "Please donate".

Of course, we have some special Disney clothes that we want to use for our next visit and like most everyone who visits, we always buy a trinket or two at the parks or nearby outlet malls. (I especially like the Beall's Outlets and Beall's Clearance Center.) So when it's time to go home, I pack another box, take a quick run to the post office, and do not worry about luggage on the way back.

The $40 spent doing this is well worth it for our family. We do not have to visit baggage pick up at the airport, which saves time and aggravation. We don't worry about lost luggage (and by sending the box down a week early with delivery tracking, we are confident it arrives before we do). We have more than enough clothes for the time that we are there.

Nancy wrote on Wed, 05/30/2012 - 01:38:

Nancy's picture

Packing light for our family is only packing one outfit per day! We sweat in the Florida heat. You sit down or lean against a dirty bench. 6 t-shirts will last my husband or sons 3 days, because they feel better in the evening with a "fresh" shirt. I'm willing to have one "laundry day" in the middle of the trip, but don't want to mess with it every night. On the other hand, when it's only t-shirts, shorts, and underwear, 6 days doesn't take up that much space! If we go in the winter months, we do cut way down on quantity, as jeans or sweatshirts take up a lot more room.

Kristen K. wrote on Wed, 05/30/2012 - 11:25:

Kristen K.'s picture

JD - What a great idea, thanks for the shipping tips!

Gaylin wrote on Wed, 05/30/2012 - 21:25:

Gaylin's picture

I have always managed to pack only carry-on for a 8 or 9 night trip. Mix & match does work great as well as planning an evening mid-trip to do one load of laundry. It makes me take a rest during a busy vacation.

I have had more than one airline check-in employee ask me how I can pack so light?I plan and keep a list. If I brought something and didn't use it, I take it off the list.

I also bring old socks & undies that I throw out at the end of every day so I have room on the way home for my souvenirs.

salejune wrote on Thu, 05/31/2012 - 23:31:

salejune's picture

JD, I think that is a wonderful idea! I think I just might do that when we go in December and all the other suggestions are great as well. I was watching Samantha Brown, the travel lady, on tv the other day and she said when she is gone for 9 days she pack 3 pants 3 shirts and mix and matches them throughout her travel. I thought that was a good idea too. You might have to do a load of laundry during that time.

teresa wrote on Sun, 06/16/2013 - 00:04:

teresa's picture

I have been to Disney many times and learned that doing laundry one time around Day 3 is a lifesaver! I can pack light and have clean clothes while I am there. I usually go at night and sit by the pool and relax while laundry is done. There is less luggage and more space in our room to move around! When packing, lay out total outfits for 3 days. Add a light-weight jacket, comfortable shoes, and all medications and toiletries. I also pack pre-measured laundry detergent and fabric softener sheets for 2 loads. I fold each entire outfit and put in my bag on top of shoes and toiletries and put pajamas on top. Boom! Easy packing for a week-long trip!

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